2 from Lakewood to join state oil & gas commission

Marianne Goodland
Colorado Politics
Posted 6/30/20

Gov. Jared Polis has named the five "professional" members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, who started their new jobs July 1. Two are from Lakewood The five new commissioners …

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2 from Lakewood to join state oil & gas commission

Posted

Gov. Jared Polis has named the five "professional" members of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, who started their new jobs July 1. Two are from Lakewood

The five new commissioners will be full-time salaried employees rather than serving as volunteers.

That comes out of Senate Bill 19-181, a law passed by the General Assembly to change the mission of the COGCC and the regulations around oil and gas drilling and development. The COGCC has been working on new rules tied to those regulations since last year.

Some of the new appointees, announced June 22, are holdovers from previous commissions. That includes Jeffrey Robbins, who has served as the director of the COGCC since Jan. 17, 2019.

Robbins, an attorney, will be the COGCC's chair, and is appointed as member "with professional experience demonstrating an ability to contribute to the commission’s body of expertise that will aid the commission in making sound, balanced decisions."

Robbins will be replaced as director of the COGCC by Julie Murphy, the current chief of staff and senior policy advisor.

Gunnison County Commissioner John Messner, also a holdover from the previous commission, will represent planning and land use. According to a statement from Polis' office, Messner has experience in "public policy related to outdoor recreation, land use, and local government."

Other appointees include:

Priya K. Nanjappa of Lakewood, who has "formal training or substantial experience in environmental protection, wildlife protection, or reclamation." She previously worked as director of operations at Conservation Science Partners, Inc. and was a program manager for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, which represents state agencies in Washington, D.C.

Karin L. McGowan of Lakewood, who has "formal training or substantial experience in public health." McGowan is already a state employee, currently deputy executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). She will resign her position with CDPHE to take on the commission job, according to Robbins. He pointed out that the statute states that those employed on the commission "are not entitled to be employed elsewhere." 

Bill Gonzalez of Denver, a land manager with Occidental, will represent the oil and gas industry. 

Four of the five commissioners will each be paid $150,000 annually. Robbins will be paid $161,700, the same salary he had as director.

The commission also will include two "ex-officio" non-voting members: the executive directors of the Department of Natural Resources and the CDPHE.

Robbins told reporters that the commission will move from its nine--member volunteer commission, which meets for a day or two every six weeks, and who have full-time jobs, to a five-member full-time paid commission. "You increase the bandwidth and capacity of the commission substantially," Robbins said of the new commission.

The COGCC is in a "critical juncture with the implementation of Senate Bill 181," Robbins said.

The volunteer commission successfully adopted three of the nine rulemakings, but the statute requires that if the rulemakings are not complete, the full-time commission is to take that on after it was seated July 1.

Rulemakings still in progress include one of the biggest: the COGCC's mission change. Previously, the COGCC was tasked with fostering oil and gas development in Colorado. Senate Bill 181 changed that to require the COGCC to regulate oil and gas in a manner that protects public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of the environment and wildlife resources.

Rulemakings after that include an alternative location mandate. That means oil and gas companies,when proposing a well, are require by law to look at alternative locations. The last major rulemaking is on cumulative impacts of oil and gas.

The commission has a full July and August ahead, with briefings from about 100 stakeholders, Robbins said and witness testimony, all required under the state's Administrative Procedures Act. Robbins said they have a hoped-for deadline of November 1, 2020.

This story is from Colorado Politics, a statewide political and public policy news journal. Used by permission. For more, visit coloradopolitics.com.

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